In 1963, eight men held a draft in Wilfred Winkebauch’s living room.
The group included administrators of the American Football League, Oakland raiders season ticket holders, and journalists. These men came up with an idea to pick their favorite players in the National Football League and create what their “fantasy team” would be like. Each was allowed twenty players of their choice in all of the major positions, and just like that, Fantasy Football was born.
Over the last five decades, what started out as a fun pastime for a couple of friends has turned into a sensation for die-hard sports fans.
The basics of fantasy football are a point system based on each player’s performance on a weekly basis. As a participant, you have the power each week to make trades, acquire players that are on the free market, and set your starting lineup for that weekend. Once the real games take place that week, points are tallied up from each one of the players. The person with the most points would win his or her game for that week. Some play for money, others play for bragging rights.
Originally, all the point systems were based off of scoring alone, but in 1988 the rules were advanced by considering the full spectrum of player statistics and their abilities. The rules now allowed players to get more points for how many yards a running back would carry the ball on a play or when a defensive lineman would sack a quarterback. This point system was soon adapted by fantasy fans all over the country. The records and scores were kept on paper until 1995 when they continued it onto the Internet.
In 1997, CBS launched the first free public fantasy football website and within three years all sports media websites launched their own versions of the game as well. Fantasy Football has become so successful that over 30 million people worldwide play it and it is now the NFL’s single most important marketing tool.
So why do people play it? From an outsider’s perspective, it’s just what it is labeled, a fantasy. You have no actual control over how players will play on a week-to-week basis, nor does it really matter if you win. However, to those who do play, it serves as more then just a silly game to pass the time.
For starters, once you have a roster full of players to root for, you’ll suddenly find that you have some new favorite teams and it makes games that you normally wouldn’t watch more exciting. Second, it puts you in the seat of a General Manager’s position, except without the long hours or the money. Last but not least, it allows you to have fun and friendly competition with friends or family.
“It is fun to be in a league with friends where you can be competitive, talk trash, and keep in touch when you’re often miles apart from each other,” senior Jeremy Wick said.